PV Integration Lab

Facility for the integration of photovoltaic systems in buildings and grids

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© Eurac Research | Andrea DeGiovanni

Facility for the integration of photovoltaic systems in buildings and grids​ ​ What is the yield of a thin-film photovoltaic module placed on a roof which faces south and is inclined 30°? What temperature does a module attached to a flat roof or façade reach? How much energy does a prefabricated façade system produce which integrates transparent or opaque photovoltaic modules? What added value is there for accumulation systems combined with PV systems? Which type of inverter should be used? What impact do photovoltaics have on electricity networks? The PV Integration Lab is an outdoor infrastructure capable of providing producers, designers, installers and dealers with the answers to these questions. The laboratory characterises in real conditions the electrical performance of photovoltaic modules and systems both in the open field and integrated within architectural structures. It tests systems connected to storage systems and verifies the impact on electricity networks.

Photovoltaic prototyping laboratory

The facility includes process equipment for manufacturing prototypes (soldering and lamination), climatic chambers for ageing tests and instruments for module characterisation (differential scanning calorimetry, spectrophotometer, solar simulator, colorimeter). The laboratory's equipment allows for a wide flexibility in the size of the prototypes (from a few centimetres to about one square metre), but also in the range of applications: from conventional photovoltaics to building-integrated photovoltaics, from agri-voltaics to special applications, such as floating photovoltaics, which require a high level of customisation.

The laboratory enables the examination of individual module elements, supports the development of new customised photovoltaic modules and facilitates the identification of causes of degradation and technical problems.

Rotating cover for tests on photovoltaics integrated into the architecture

The laboratory has a real cover model, positioned outdoors and measuring 20 square metres (5 x 4 metres), that is able to tilt up to 60° from the horizontal plane and to orient in any direction to reproduce the pitch of a roof or any type of cover. The rotating cover is connected to a monitoring system that records electrical and environmental parameters (such as yield, radiation, temperature) and thus the efficiency of any type of module.

Façade for tests on photovoltaic modules integrated into architecture

A façade model (4 x 6 metres) allows the yield of photovoltaic modules integrated into systems of active solar façades to be tested in real conditions. To better recreate the actual conditions of a building, the façade was structurally designed to also support heavy façades, in any weather condition. The structure is divided into six 2 x 2 metre modules to simultaneously accommodate various blocks of façade. The monitoring system was also designed to test complex façade systems that integrate for example photovoltaic systems, as well as electrical storage and control systems. The infrastructure is also equipped with a thermal box that keeps the inside of the solar façade active at temperatures typical of interiors of residential buildings.

Photovoltaic storage systems and inverters

A standard photovoltaic system connected to a system of electric accumulations and electronic loads allows innovative storage systems to be tested. Accumulation systems are the key to optimising the ratio between energy produced locally and energy consumed, especially in buildings. Furthermore, to minimise the losses of a system it is essential to use suitably-sized inverters. These must be able to convert the electricity generated from DC to AC with a high efficiency level and to push photovoltaic modules to work at their maximum power point. These requirements are tested with a dedicated setup that performs tests according to the IEC 50530 standard.

Company service expertise

Laboratory tests can become part of a broader collaboration between research and business that starts with the design of a prototype and ends with the creation of a product ready for the market, including simulation phases, specific tests and optimisation. Collaborating with Eurac Research researchers means the assurance of consolidated know-how developed in international networks and applied in numerous projects with local companies that focus on quality and reliability of modules, the study of the solar resource and the integration of photovoltaics within build​ings and networks.

Laboratory financed by funds from ERDF-EFRE 1042 INTEGRIDS, ERDF-EFRE 5-1a-232 FlexiBIPV, H2020 608678 Commonenergy, HE INFINITE, HE CULTURAL-E, RDS CANVAS, PNRR PR ‘ Network 4 Energy Sustainable TRansition - NEST’ Mission 4 Education and Research - Component 2 From research to enterprise - Investment 1.3, funded by the European Union - Next Generation EU


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PV Integration Lab© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà

© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà

PV Integration Lab© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà

© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà

© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà

© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà

PV Integration Lab© Eurac Research - Ivo Corrà

Laboratories & facilities

The laboratories of the Institute for Renewable Energy are a contact point between scientific research and private companies.